EppsNet Archive: Music

Frankie Ford, 1939-2015

4 Oct 2015 /

I have a quote for you on that “One-Hit Wonder” thing. I’d like to go on record right here saying, whoever that disc jockey was that coined that phrase, well he’s a no-hit wonder! I mean, it can get rude. A DJ did that to me one time in his introduction. I turned to him and said, “Well, you’re a no-hit wonder. What have you ever done?” Some people have five records that sell a million each. Some sell none. I’ve had one that sold 30 million! And I’ve outlived that one record. I’ve been 38 years at this and it’s still going.

RIP, Frankie Ford

A Pug is Playing the Drums

22 Sep 2015 /

The Perfect Murder, Revisited

21 Sep 2015 /


Man hanging on branch

I have long maintained that the best way to kill someone and get away with it is to push them off a cliff. It’s simple, clean. no need to dispose of evidence, and reasonable doubt is almost assured.

It’s not totally foolproof however. Let’s look at where the defendant in this case went wrong:

Harold Henthorn scouted the remote area of the popular park 75 miles north of Denver nine times before bringing his wife with him. He was searching for the “perfect place to murder someone,” where there would be no witnesses and no chance of her surviving, prosecutor Suneeta Hazra said.

Don’t make nine trips to reconnoiter the scene of the crime. Don’t even make one trip. It’s both unnecessary and highly suspect.

Prosecutors argued the fatal fall was reminiscent of the death of Henthorn’s first wife, Sandra Lynn Henthorn, who was crushed when a car slipped off a jack while they were changing a flat tire in 1995 — several months after their 12th wedding anniversary. Henthorn has not been charged in that case, but police reopened the investigation after Toni Henthorn’s death.

Details of the earlier case dominated the trial. A paramedic who responded to the 1995 accident testified that Henthorn didn’t seem upset by what had happened, and an investigator said a shoe print found on the vehicle suggested it might have been pushed.

There’s a reason magicians never repeat the same trick. Just count yourself lucky for getting away with killing the first wife. A shoe print?! No . . . don’t kill any more wives.

Why was the first wife under the car to change a tire? I’ll lift the tire, honey, and you get under there and help me pull it on from the back. I would not want to explain that in a court of law.


She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
I can’t help it if I’m lucky

The Ceiling Seems Very Low

10 Sep 2015 /


I don’t know if this is good news or bad news. It would help to know what “trains” means but I read the article and it doesn’t say. Reporters need to be more inquisitive.

Can someone with no knowledge of computer science or programming be “trained” to teach computer science or programming? What would that entail? How long would it take?

Can someone who’s never played an instrument or listened to a piece of music be “trained” to teach a music class?

Can someone who’s never picked up a drawing pencil or visited a museum be “trained” to teach an art class?

Can someone who doesn’t speak Spanish be “trained” to teach a Spanish class?

The ceiling on any of these approaches seems very low compared to hiring actual programmers, musicians, artists and Spanish speakers . . .

Thus spoke The Programmer.


25 Aug 2015 /

Photo by Siderola

Guess what, Dad and I finally figured out Pandora,
and after all those years of silence, our old music
fills the air. It fills the air, and somehow, here,
at this instant and for this instant only
—perhaps three bars—what I recall
equals all I feel, and I remember all the words.

— Rebecca Foust, “Abeyance”

Always Something to Learn

21 Jun 2015 /

When Pablo Casals was asked at age 93 why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

I rocked down to Electric Avenue but I can’t decide what to do next . . .

Posted by on 6 May 2015

Janis Joplin – Ball & Chain

14 Apr 2015 /

I can’t imagine anyone ever left a Janis Joplin concert thinking, “I didn’t get my money’s worth. She didn’t put anything into it.” That looks like Cass Elliot mouthing “oh my god” at the end . . .

Doing What I Wanted To

5 Apr 2015 /

I’m just doing what I wanted to and what feels right and not settling for bullshit and it worked. How can they be mad at that?

— Janis Joplin

Trains 2, Fitness Experts 0

20 Mar 2015 /

Two months after fitness expert and reality TV star Greg Plitt was killed by a Metrolink train in California, another personal trainer was struck and killed Tuesday in Georgia by a freight train.

Achilles Williams, 30, a popular Atlanta-area personal trainer, was skipping rope near the train tracks filming a YouTube workout video when he was sideswiped by a speeding freight train, a spokesperson at the Fulton County coroner’s office confirms to PEOPLE.

At the Piano Studio

5 Mar 2015 /


There’s a new woman at the front desk tonight when I go in for my piano lesson . . .

“I need to pay for March,” I say.

“What is your child’s name?” she asks.

“Casey. But he’s not taking the lessons, I am.”


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

4 Mar 2015 /
  • Celebrities showing off their post-baby bodies
  • Anyone who asks for privacy by issuing a press release through their publicist
  • Anyone with a go-to karaoke song

How Can I Be as Great as [Insert Famous Person’s Name Here]?

17 Feb 2015 /

Young Composer: “Herr Mozart, I am thinking of writing a symphony. How should I get started?”

Mozart: “A symphony is a very complex musical form and you are still young. Perhaps you should start with something simpler, like a concerto.”

Young Composer: “But Herr Mozart, you were writing symphonies when you were 8 years old.”

Mozart: “Yes, but I never asked anyone how.”

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

10 Jan 2015 /

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand.

Derek Jeter

About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority.

I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me.

This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . .

Bob Knight

This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.

Notice that he says “everyone” and “no one.” He doesn’t say some people don’t want to come to practice. There’s a universal aspiration to accomplish great results without a corresponding level of effort. I recognize that in myself, definitely. As far as I can tell, this approach rarely if ever works, even for people we think of as prodigies.

Mozart used to say that anyone who thought composing music came easily to him was very much mistaken. While all the other kids were playing kickball, Mozart was in the house practicing his music lessons. In case you’re thinking that kickball wasn’t even a game at that time, you may be right. The point is that if there was kickball, Mozart wouldn’t have been playing it because he was practicing his music lessons.

One more on this topic . . .

Michelangelo's David

This is a quote from Michelangelo. Nothing great seems to happen without a lot of practice.

Once again, please raise your hand if you recognize the person on this next slide.

Anton Chekhov

He looks Russian.

Yes, he is Russian.

Dostoevsky? Tolstoy? Mendeleev? Pushkin? Boris Pasternak?

No . . . he’s known as an author of plays and short stories.

[A student sitting next to a smart but quiet young man from Russia points to the Russian boy and says, “He knows.”]

Who is it? Chekhov.

Right . . . this is Anton Chekhov. He wasn’t a programmer but his advice is relevant to many different endeavors.

Don’t overcomplicate things. A good heuristic – which is a fancy way of saying “rule of thumb” – is to do the simplest thing that could possibly work. Method A could work, Method B could work — which one should we try first? Try the simplest one first.

Note that the heuristic doesn’t say to do the simplest thing. If the simplest thing couldn’t possibly work, don’t do it. Do the simplest thing that might actually work.

One final slide. I don’t think anyone will know these people so I’m not asking for a show of hands.

2 days in a closet

I saw an article last week about a man and a woman who were “trapped” in a janitor’s closet at the Daytona State College Marine and Environmental Science Center for two days. They got themselves in the closet last Sunday and finally on Tuesday, the gentleman on the right got the idea to call 911. Why that idea took two days to incubate is unclear. Police showed up to let them out and found out the closet was not locked. They could have opened the door themselves.

Maybe the lock was meth’d up, like the woman. “Meth’d” up, get it?

Are they students at Daytona State College? The article doesn’t say. Do any of you have Daytona State College on your college wish list? If so, you may want to take it off. Or just keep it as a safety school in case Harvard and the Sorbonne don’t come through for you.

What can we learn from this story? I don’t want to say “don’t make assumptions” but don’t make unwarranted assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about things that you can easily verify. If you’re in a closet, don’t assume the door is locked. Try it and see. A lot of uncertainty can be dispelled by trying things out.

Assumptions can hurt you as a programmer. You might be stuck because you’re assuming some condition is true that isn’t true. Or you’re assuming that some condition can never be true when it really can be true. Don’t make unwarranted assumptions.

I couldn’t help noticing that a lot more people recognized Derek Jeter than recognized Anton Chekhov. If you want to achieve great renown, if you want to be part of the public consciousness, entertain people in a simple-minded way, like hitting a ball with a stick and running around in a park. People can be entertained by Derek Jeter without expending any effort.

Where Chekhov went wrong is that he failed to anticipate a world where nobody reads anymore. Furthermore, he believed that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them. His plays and stories don’t have a traditional structure where everything is tied up neatly at the end, so you not only have to put in the time to read them, you have to go into overtime to ponder the moral ambiguities. Who has time for that in their busy lives?

This Magic Moment

21 Nov 2014 /

Bravery is doing
            the same thing every day when you don’t want to.
Not the marvelous but the familiar, over and over again.
            Do that, and the magic will come.

— David Kirby, “This Magic Moment”

Proud to Be a Coal Miner’s Daughter

7 Nov 2014 /

Loretta Lynch

If she is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first coal miner’s daughter to hold the job . . .


24 Oct 2014 /

Raymond Chandler

There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Room and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provençal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them.

— Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

Teaching Computer Science: Applause

23 Sep 2014 /


We did an interactive exercise to write a simple program that prints numbers and the squares of the numbers — a for loop, basically. We went around the room with each student providing one element of the loop and me writing them on the whiteboard: for, open paren, int, i, equals, 1, semicolon, etc.

I thought it went very well. The timing was good and it was obvious that most of the class understood what was going on. When we got to a girl who’s usually ahead of everyone and knows all the answers, what we needed from her was “curly bracket” but what she actually said was “semicolon” and there was a collective groan from the rest of the class.

When the last student said “close curly bracket,” there was spontaneous applause, immediately, before I even wrote it on the board. It wasn’t like a concert at the high school auditorium where a piece ends and there’s a gap — “Is it over? Do we clap now?” It was like a classical concert with a high-brow audience that knows exactly when the piece ends and when to clap.

People I Thought Were Dead

19 Sep 2014 /
Close to You (Johnny Mathis album)

I got an email this afternoon notifying me that priority tickets are now available for a Johnny Mathis concert Nov. 8 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. If you’d asked me this morning if Johnny Mathis is still alive, I would have said “I don’t think so.”

Neil Young Sings “Fancy”

8 Jul 2014 /

Have you seen this? This is absolute genius . . .

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